Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood met ambassadors of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Islamabad on Tuesday and urged them to hold India accountable for stifling the rights of its religious minorities, especially Muslims.
“The foreign secretary underlined the importance for the international community to take cognizance of the rising tide of Islamophobia in India,” read a statement issued by the Foreign Office. “India must be held accountable for stifling the rights of its religious minorities, especially the Muslim population, which is the victim of hate speech, persecution and violence perpetrated under state patronage,” it said, adding that foreign secretary had highlighted the special role of the OIC in this regard.
According to the Foreign Office, the foreign secretary had briefed the OIC ambassadors on developments regarding two senior officials of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) making derogatory remarks about Islam’s Prophet. It said Mahmood had noted the statement issued by the General Secretariat of the OIC on June 5, which had strongly condemned and denounced the offensive remarks, echoing the sentiment expressed by OIC member states.
“He highlighted the OIC’s role in promoting the rights and fundamental freedoms of the Muslim Ummah around the world,” it said, adding that the strong reaction from the OIC countries to such totally unacceptable actions was natural, given Muslims’ love and reverence for the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).
A spokeswoman for the BJP made derogatory remarks about Islam’s Prophet during a recent televised debate, provoking controversy in Kanpur, which has since gone global. As reports of the BJP spokeswoman’s comments spread on social media, several Muslim-majority states conveyed their displeasure to India and demanded an apology.
Thus far, Indian products have been removed from shelves in the U.A.E., while Qatar, Kuwait and Iran have all summoned their Indian ambassadors to convey their anger. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Afghanistan have all condemned the spokeswoman, Nupur Sharma, who has been suspended from her party position. The BJP has also, in a rare move, issued a statement maintaining that it “respects all religions” and “strongly denounces insult of any religious personalities of any religion.”